In the months leading up to Iraq’s parliamentary election last spring, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki broke with his own government’s policy banning urban expansion, to hand out thousands of land deeds to the poor, in an effort to stack the nation’s parliament with loyalists. Some of the deeds had only the voters’ names and cities, but no designated plot of land. That, they were led to believe, would come only if Maliki’s candidates were elected.
The strategy worked. When Maliki’s own party voted to name an opposition figure, Haydar Abady, to replace Maliki, only 10 members of parliament supported the move. Forty-three voted against it.
With militants of the Islamic State raising their black flag over towns and cities outside of Baghdad, Iraq’s parliament is facing growing pressure to ease the disaffection of Iraq’s sizable Sunni minority by more fully integrating them into the political process.
But will Maliki’s legacy of election-related corruption get in the way?